Bridging the Gap Between Digital, Mobile and In-Store Experiences

This post originally appeared in our January '13 issue of “Live Report from the Future of Marketing,” our monthly Post-Advertising newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

In the mid-’90s I was a teenager just entering high school. I loved computers, and the emergence of the Internet simply astounded me. I would spend hours on Prodigy, then AOL, chatting away and browsing every corner of the emerging web.   

My big prediction was that there would come a day when we’d go to the mall online. We’d walk a character through the mall, entering shops where we could buy real items. Turns out it wasn’t that bold a prediction, as I wasn’t far off.

Today e-commerce has become a formidable challenger to brick-and-mortar stores, which rely on customers getting dressed (it’s harder than you think), leaving their houses, driving to the store, finding parking and dealing with store employees who are too eager or absent to be of any assistance, only to realize the item is out of stock. But in the early days of the web, it wasn’t clear that anyone would ever buy anything online. Who would you be buying from? How would you pay, and would it be safe? Did you need that item now, or could you wait six to 10 days for shipping? Why buy online when you could get everything at the mall (or so you thought) in one day? What if the items didn’t fit? What if they never arrived?

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4 Brands Winning Big in Social Media with Surprise and Delight

This past weekend I had the joy of throwing a surprise birthday party for my wife. And by joy I mean massive amounts of stress and that sick feeling in my stomach I get when I have to withhold the truth from my wife (which is infrequent, I swear!).

After I took her out for lunch and a spa treatment, we returned to the house, where the guests were huddling in the rear hallway. When we pulled into the driveway, my wife noticed that one of the trash barrels had been moved to the side porch (to make it easier to clean up after the party). Even though I begged her to take care of it later, she had to put the barrel back in its place. This would mean we’d enter from the side door, not the front door, as had been intended.

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The Best Advertising Isn’t Advertising Anymore

For decades, advertising was a joyous place. Executives enjoyed two-martini lunches as they watched the ad dollars roll in. Ads were spread through every new medium—from print to radio to television. Ad agencies were held to vague benchmarks, and they promised massive exposure (as measured by metrics like number of print subscribers, average daily travelers passing by a billboard or number of television purchases) to the highest bidder. Brands blindly believed that these metrics (potential eyeballs) meant guaranteed success. 

Advertising still is a joyous place, but for different reasons. Two-martini lunches are a thing of the past (or at least I’m not invited to them). But martinis aside, advertising in the post-advertising age is filled with amazing creativity and opportunities to constantly challenge the status quo, innovate and reach audiences with unique and authentic content.

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10 Marketing Lessons You Can’t Learn From Walmart

This post originally appeared in our November '12 issue of “Live Report from the Future of Marketing,” our monthly Post-Advertising newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

I’m not ashamed to admit that one of my favorite movies is You’ve Got Maila complete rip-off of Sleepless in Seattle, even using the same lead actors (Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan). Ryan’s character runs a small independent bookshop in Manhattan, while Hanks’s character is opening a large retail bookstore with low prices (if only he’d known how technology would change the way we read) just down the block.

In the late 1990s, when the movie was made, this was a common story line. What were small businesses going to do when Borders, Walmart, Kmart and Target moved into town? How could they compete with rock-bottom prices and one-stop shopping?

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10 Brands Doing Post-Advertising Right: Fall Edition

Each week, our social media team at Story hops on a conference call discuss the latest and greatest in the world of social media, content marketing, brand storytelling and the like. While most everyone would admit that meetings are rarely fun, I look forward to this call because I love to talk social-media shop. 

Considering how quickly marketing happens in the post-advertising age, we aren’t able to cover everything on the blog and a lot of great work that we discuss on our weekly call falls through the cracks. In the last year, we’ve made it a point to highlight the brands each season that have embraced Post-Advertising and have focused their efforts on creating engaging content and igniting movements that spread.

It’s been six long months since our last edition, so let’s get on with it! Here are Ten Brands Doing Post-Advertising Right: Fall Edition.

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LOCOG & Cadbury Strike Social Media Gold at the London Olympics

Last week we suggested a top pick for Social Media Week London: a talk by Alex Balfour of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). We weren’t disappointed. Alex shared with us some impressive statistics and insights learned during LOCOG's digital adventure during the Games, so we wanted to share them with you, along with a very interesting case study on Cadbury's social media efforts during the Games.

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Isn’t It About Time Your Brand Adopted a Mobile Strategy?

I received a sobering yet enlightening Facebook message from my aunt two weeks ago. After getting over my shock that she even knew how to use Facebook Messenger (she is not a technophile), I read her message: 

Aunt: Guess what I got today?
Me: What?
Aunt: The iPhone 5
[cue jaw dropping]

I was reading this on my iPhone 3Gs, yet I’m the one who works at a global post-advertising agency. That’s when I knew it: Mobile has reached significant penetration and can’t be ignored by brands.

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Grey Poupon’s Facebook Page Spreads a Lesson in Brand Storytelling

I hate mustard.

I’ve always been a picky eater, though my palate has developed as I’ve gotten older. I used to avoid nearly all condiments and toppings. I’d eat salads without dressing, sandwiches without mayo, and whatever you put mustard on, I didn’t. I’ve come around on some of those. Any salad is better with ranch.  I need mayo on my tuna sandwiches.

I still hate mustard, though.

Hello. My name is Jon, and I’m a fan of Grey Poupon on Facebook.

It makes little sense, allowing a brand I have no intention of ever buying into my precious Facebook timeline. If my wife sneaked it into a sandwich, I’d spit it out like a petulant child. But Grey Poupon took an approach to building a community on Facebook that was so unusual, so exclusive, that I had to become a fan (or at least try). 

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Will Facebook Exist in 2020?

Will Facebook Exist in 2020?

I have a bet with a friend who works in finance. He believes that Facebook will not exist in seven years. I, a marketer, couldn’t disagree more. It reminded me of when, in 1995, astronomer Clifford Stoll claimed that the Internet was “grossly overpromoted" and would ultimately be looked on as a fad. (He has since acknowledged his mistake.) More from Clifford later.

It’s difficult to define what “existence” even means in today’s digital age, when social technologies are imagined, developed, funded, adopted and acquired by a media conglomerate (often Facebook) in a matter of months, not years. Myspace is technically still in existence (I had to test it in my browser as I wrote this, just to be sure), but it’s far from relevant anymore in the social sphere. If Facebook goes the same route, I’ll concede defeat. 

But I don’t expect to be in that situation come 2020. Though Wall Street is panicking about the stock price, which has shrunk by nearly half, Facebook is a game-changing technology, and technologies like that don’t just fade away in less than a decade. As we do the automobile, we can’t image what we ever did or would do without it. It’s a technology that we seemingly never saw coming (as opposed to a smartphone or tablet, which were arguably natural evolutions in product innovation), and technologies like that are special. 

So if I’m so confident about the future of Facebook, where do I think it’s going? What do I think it will look like in seven to 10 years? As technology is moving so quickly, it would be futile for me to speculate on exactly what Facebook may be at that time, but here are four that opportunities could help sustain the platform.

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Food Truck Culture: Is There Room for National Chains?

Food truck fanatics, hold on to your tongues: Fast-food giants from Sizzler to Taco Bell to Jack in the Box to Applebee’s have fully functional food trucks parading down streets across America. Some just hope to capitalize on the current food truck trend, while others predate it. Should supporters of what some might call authentic food truck culture—the kind incubated in Portland, Oregon; Los Angeles; and other cities—be worried about these flirtations by the big-timers they already vie with every lunch hour?

An increasing number of quick-service restaurants are looking at the medium as more than just an agile promotional vehicle for products and locations—a view that could spell trouble for independents. 

But, instead of being considered a threat to the carefully cultivated culture’s longevity, could the increased presence of national brands (as documented by AdWeek) just be a harmless, but telling, aftereffect of a new marketing approach’s success?

One thing’s for sure: The wild success of certain food trucks is no fluke; it’s in no small part due to a breaking from the marketing conventions of larger chains in favor of a nimble, post-ad-approved approach. Mobile or brick-and-mortar, there’s plenty for businesses small and large to learn.

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